The DVLA has issued an urgent warning to every single driver in the country.
Websites, called ‘shyster sites’, have been set up asking drivers to pay for services which are free of charge on the DVLA website.
It is reported that thousands of motorists have been caught out by the websites that charge for things such as changing your address on your licence, renewing a driving licence,or helping with V5C vehicle registration certificates.
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All of these things can be done for free, or at a much cheaper price on the DVLA website, reports EuroJournal.
These ‘shyster sites’ do actually offer the services they advertise and they are not illegal – but the DVLA doesn’t want drivers to pay for unnecessary services.
Even if the DVLA does charge for a service, copycat websites will ask for even more.
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For example, it costs £14 to renew a driving licence on the DVLA website, but up to £60 elsewhere.
The DVLA said it has been contacted by 1,200 drivers about the issue since January 2020.
MoneySavingExpert deputy editor Guy Anker said: “These copycat sites aren’t illegal, but they dress up like legitimate webpages, and use clever tricks to appear higher on search engines.
“They get you to fill in forms, which requires no more work on your part than if you’d done it yourself via the official sites, and then they overcharge you for ‘administration’ or ‘services’ – which is really just passing it to the relevant body, with no extra work involved.”
If a website offering DVLA-related services doesn’t have “gov.uk” in the address bar, it’s a red flag that it may charge these extra fees.
Another sign is that you are being asked for money for something that was previously free for you – like updating your car’s log book when you move house.
DVLA chief executive Julie Lennard said: “Gov.uk is the only site where customers will find our official services, many of which are free. You may be charged a premium when using other websites offering services that are not connected to DVLA.”